1900 - Galveston Hurricane kills over 6,000. The greatest
single natural disaster to affect the United States or its territories.
President Roosevelt signs bill authorizing construction of the second
fisheries laboratory at Beaufort, North Carolina Fisheries Laboratory.
- National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of
Standards and Technology) established from U.S. Coast and Geodetic
Survey Office of Weights and Measures.
- Commission of Fish & Fisheries transferred to Bureau of Fisheries
(USBF) in Commerce and Labor Dept. Coast and Geodetic Survey
transferred from Treasury Department to Commerce and Labor Department.
- Weather Bureau begins balloon observations.
- First Fire Weather Forecast issued.
- Aerological Section of Weather Bureau begins.
- First radio broadcast of a weather forecast from Illiopolis,
- U. S. enters WWI. Commissioned Officers Corps created from field
corps of the Coast and Geodetic Survey; that organization is the forerunner
of NOAA Corps. Half of commissioned officer service transferred to
Armed Services, ships SURVEYOR and BACHE transferred to Navy. Ship
ALBATROSS from Bureau of Fisheries transferred to Navy. Numerous personnel
from Weather Service serve as meteorologists during WWI.
- The Weather Bureau begins issuing bulletins and forecasts for
domestic military flights and for new air mail routes.
- Meteorologists form a professional organization, the American
- Coast and Geodetic Survey begins use of acoustic sounding
systems; develops radio acoustic ranging, the first marine navigation
system ever devised to not have to rely on some visual means of position
determination. This system led to discovery of SOFAR, telemetering
radio sono-buoys, and marine seismic exploration techniques.
- The Air Commerce Act directs the Coast and Geodetic Survey to
begin charting the Nation’s airways and directs the Weather
provide for weather services to civilian aviation. The fire weather
service formally inaugurated when Congress provides funds for seven
- The Weather Bureau establishes a West Coast prototype for an
Airways Meteorological Service
- Teletype replaces telegraph and telephone as the primary method
for communicating weather information.
- The Weather Bureau begins regular 5 a.m. EST aircraft observations
at Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas and Omaha, at altitudes reaching 16,000
feet. This program spells the demise of "kite stations."
- Coast and Geodetic Survey opens ship base in Norfolk, Virginia.
- Weather Bureau establishes an Air Mass Analysis Section.
- During height of the Depression, Coast and Geodetic Survey
organizes surveying parties and field offices that employ over 10,000
including many out of work engineers.
- "Dust Bowl" drought in southern plains causes severe economic
damage and generates one of the great migrations in human history,
the Central United States to the West Coast showing dramatically the
effect of climate changes on human society.
- First Weather Bureau balloon carried radio-meteorograph, or
radiosonde, sounding made at East Boston, Mass. Full implementation
this program ends the era of manned aircraft soundings since balloons
could be launched in virtually all weather conditions and could fly
substantially higher than aircraft. Twelve pilots died flying weather
- January flood on the Ohio River is the greatest ever experienced,
with Ohio River levels exceeding all previously recorded. Cincinnati's
80-foot crest and Louisville's 81.4 foot crest have never been exceeded.
Seventy percent of Louisville under water, 175,000 of its residents
their homes; the entire city of Paducah, Kentucky, (population 40,000)
- Bureau of Fisheries transferred from Commerce Department to
Department of the Interior and becomes incorporated into the Bureau
Commercial Fisheries; Weather Bureau initiates automatic telephone
weather service in New York City; the American Geophysical Union
establishes the Bowie Medal, its highest honor, named for Captain
William Bowie of the Coast and Geodetic Survey for his "spirit
helpfulness and friendliness in unselfish cooperative research."
was the first president of AGU (1920–1922) and served again
1929-1933, the only person to hold this position twice. He was the
first recipient of the medal.
- Weather Bureau transferred to Department of Commerce from the
Department of Agriculture; Army and Navy establish weather centers;
President Roosevelt orders Coast Guard to man ocean weather stations.
- Dr. Helmut Landsberg, "the Father of Climatology", writes
first edition of his elementary textbook entitled Physical Climatology.
- World War II. Technical capabilities of the Coast and
Geodetic Survey and Weather Service are devoted completely to the
- The Coast and Geodetic Survey sends over 1000 civilian
members and over ½ of its commissioned officers to the military
services. Coast Surveyors serve as hydrographers, artillery surveyors,
cartographers, army engineers, intelligence officers, and geophysicists
in all theaters of the war. Civilians on the homefront produced over
100 million maps and charts for the Allied forces. Eleven members
the C&GS give their lives during WWII.
- The Weather Bureau is declared a war agency. Over 700 Weather
Bureau members join the Armed forces. Women are recruited to fill
positions for the duration of the war marking the first widespread
professional opportunities for women in the field of meteorology.
Eleven members of the Weather Bureau give their lives for the United
States during WWII.
- A Central Analysis Center, forerunner of the National Centers for
Environmental Prediction, is created to prepare and distribute master
analyses of the upper atmosphere; Joint Chiefs of Staff establish
Joint Meteorological Committee to coordinate wartime civilian and
military weather activities; Navy gives the Weather Bureau 25 aircraft
radars to be modified for ground meteorological use, marking the start
of a weather radar system in the U.S. Navy aerologists play key role
U.S. Carrier-based Navy planes decimate Japanese fleet in mid-Pacific
Battle of Midway Island in early June 1942, marking a turning point
the Pacific War. A cooperative thunderstorm research effort is
undertaken by the Bureau, military services, and the University of
- The decision to invade Normandy on June 6th was based
forecasts, which indicated the correct combination of tides and winds.
- First fallout forecast for a nuclear explosion made at
- Coast Survey adapts “Gee” aerial bombardment electronic
navigation system to hydrographic surveying helping usher in the era
marine electronic navigation.
- The U.S. Weather Bureau selects Cincinnati, Ohio and Kansas City,
Missouri, as locations for the nation's first hydrologist-staffed
Forecast Centers. Eventually, 13 RFC's would be established to serve
- USAF Air Weather Service meteorologists issue first tornado
warnings from a military installation. Princeton's Institute for
Advanced Studies begins research into use of a computer for weather
forecasting; this has evolved into today’s National Geophysical
Dynamics Laboratory. Chicago Weather Bureau office demonstrates use
facsimile for map transmission.
Coast and Geodetic Survey established Pacific Tsunami Warning System.
- Pacific Tsunami Warning System established in Honolulu, HI.
- First annual Fisheries of the United States published; Weather
Service begins 30-Day Weather Outlook; releases Tornado Alerts.
- National Weather Records Center established in Asheville, NC,
which eventually becomes the National Climatic Data Center; Severe
Weather Warning Center begins operation at Tinker AFB, OK; World
Meteorological Organization established by the U.N., Weather Bureau
Chief Francis Riechelderfer is elected its first head;
- Bureau organizes Severe Local Storms Forecasting Unit in
Washington, D. C. and begins issuing tornado forecasts.
- The Weather Bureau, Navy, Air Force, MIT's Institute for Advanced
Study, and the University of Chicago form a Joint Numerical Weather
Prediction Unit at Suitland, MD, which becomes operational 1 July
1954. NCEP, AFWA, and FNMOC all can trace their roots to this
facility. First radar specifically designed for meteorological use,
AN/CPS-9, is unveiled by the Air Weather Service, USAF.
- Coast and Geodetic Survey Ship PIONEER conducting surveys off
United States West Coast tows magnetometer invented by Scripps
Institution of Oceanography. Discovers magnetic striping on the
seafloor, a key element in formulating the Theory of Plate Tectonics.
- Dept. of Interior divides fisheries duties of Fish and Wildlife
Service into Bureau of Commercial Fisheries and Bureau of Sport Fishing
- The Weather Bureau initiates a National Hurricane Research
- Coast and Geodetic Survey celebrates 150 years since President
Thomas Jefferson signed law authorizing Survey of the Coast.
International Geophysical Year provides first concerted world wide
sharing of meteorological research data. Weather Bureau supports first
study to modify Navy Doppler radars for severe storm observations
beginnings of modern Doppler weather radar.
- The National Meteorological Center is established.
- The Weather Bureau's first WSR-57 weather surveillance radar is
commissioned at Miami hurricane forecast center. The Thomas Jefferson
and John Campanius Holm awards are created by the Weather Bureau to
honor volunteer observers for unusual and outstanding accomplishments
the field of meteorological observations.
- World's first weather satellite, TIROS I, successfully launched.
In cooperation with the Department of Health, Education and Welfare,
Weather Bureau meteorologists issue first advisories on air pollution
potential over the Eastern United States.
- National Severe Storms Laboratory established. Great Lakes
Research Center established.
- Weather Bureau obtains two DC-6 aircraft, forming the nucleus for
the Research Flight Facility. Polar orbiting weather satellite TIROS
III is launched with automatic picture transmission (APT) capability,
eventually to provide continuous cloud images to over 100 nations.
- Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA) created
consolidating the Coast and Geodetic Survey and the Weather Bureau,
major step on the road to NOAA.
- Marine Resources and Engineering Development Act initiates
Stratton Commission. National Sea Grant Colleges and Programs Act
signed into law. The national operational weather satellite system
formally established on March 5, when NASA transfers control of ESSA
to the National Environmental Satellite Center.
- Eleven ESSA research centers established including Atlantic
Oceanographic Laboratory, Pacific Oceanographic Laboratory, National
Severe Storms Laboratory, and National Hurricane Research Laboratory.
National Council for Marine Research, Resources and Engineering
Development endorses the formation of the National Data Buoy Development
Program within the U.S. Coast Guard - forerunner of the NOAA's National
Data Buoy Center.
- Implementation of the World Weather Watch begins.
- Stratton Commission report Our Nation and the Sea recommends a
new oceanic and atmospheric agency. Barbados Oceanographic and
Meteorological Experiment (BOMEX), the first project of the Global
Atmospheric Research Program (GARP), is conducted off Barbados during
May, June, and July.; ESSA Ship and aircraft partake in this milestone
experiment. Hurricane Camille, a Category 5 Hurricane, strikes the
Mississippi Coast causing widespread damage.